The challenge of providing education that is inclusive and seen as equitable for all children is one that has exercised policy makers and education professionals in most countries throughout the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries (Thomas 2013; Loreman, Forlin, Chambers, Sharma and Deppeler 2014). International agreements such as the Jomtien Declaration (UNESCO 1990), and the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education (UNESCO 1994) were instrumental in promoting debate about the rights of children who were denied access to an appropriate schooling and in some instances had no opportunity to obtain any formal education. The Education for All Goals (UNESCO 2000) which were used to prioritise the development of universal primary education, and more recently the United Nations Sustainable Education Goals (UNESCO 2015) which reiterated a commitment to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” (Goal 4) have increased the focus upon developing inclusive education. This has encouraged governments around the world to re-examine the ways in which they provide schooling for their children and young people. With such a plethora of initiatives, agreements and advice, it is only to be expected that most national administrations have felt it necessary to respond and to demonstrate that they are taking action towards improving educational opportunities for all. However, the relationship between policy and practice is complex and in some instances the development of legislation has failed to provide increased equity in the manner that was intended. This chapter considers two distinctly different routes towards achieving inclusive education and discusses those factors that have either supported or inhibited success. In drawing upon examples from current developments in India, it additionally proposes that researchers who conduct investigations in international contexts should invest time in understanding underlying policy and cultural and historical factors that may impact upon the ways in which we interpret meaning from data.
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- sustainable development goals